It is the most tourist-oriented beach of the so-called South Coast. It is separated from the Tiwi Beach to the north by the Kongo River. 10 km south of Diani Beach is Galu Beach, 20 km south Gazi Beach, 30 km south the Msambweni Beach and 50 km the south the Mwazaro Beach.
People who want to spend their holidays at the wonderful beaches of Kenya and to go on a safari tour have to decide whether to go to South Coast or North Coast, which simply means south or north of Mombasa. While the South Coast has the nicer beaches and more primordial nature the North Coast around Mombasa offers many more activities. Some of the hotels at South Coast are quite isolated offering tranquil holidays at beach and pool which might become boring. Others are closer to night-life and shopping centres. In contrast the beaches of the North Cost that are close to Mombasa are more crowded but offer a lot of action and activities, sightseeing, sports, night-life (see Mombasa, Mtwapa). The beaches further north (Kilifi, Watamu, Malindi) are like South Coast, primordial and tranquil, not as long and broad as Diani Beach but even more photogenic.
There will be many cultural differences that often lead to misunderstandings between guests and locals. It's advisable to inform yourself (see: Kenya#Respect).
Kenya is known for sex tourism too. Along the beach, in beach bars or in the huts along the beach offering massage you will get in contact with Kenyan women and men, who try to bind themselves to a tourist in search of a better life. Money, not sympathy, is what they are looking for. Take the usual precautions against HIV infections!
There is a small airport called Ukunda, international travellers will probably use the airport in Mombasa instead. Silver Stone Airlines offers direct low-cost flights to Nairobi and Sax Airlines offers Mombasa - Ukunda.
If you want to combine coast holiday with safari in the Massai Mara its advisable to come to Kenya via Nairobi to save the high costs for the flight from Mombasa into the Mara and back.
Taxis from Mombasa city centre will be around Ksh 3500. From the airport a little more (Ksh 4000-5000). A taxi can be a good choice because with public transport you have to change 3 times and it consumes a lot of time. If your hotel does not offer transport to south coast, it is often possible to join other hotel vans that wait in front of the airport if you speak with the driver and give a tip.
The cheapest way to get to Diani Beach is by local bus-taxis (matatus). From Mombasa town to Likoni Ferry is about Ksh 30. From the Likoni Ferry, take another matatu to Ukunda (30 km) for about Ksh 60. From Ukunda to Diani Beach, take another matatu about 5 km at the cost of about Ksh 30.
Coming from Tanzania, you can get a bus going to Mombasa and ask the driver to be dropped in Ukunda.
Matatus run up and down Diani Beach Road from early in the morning until late in the evening. You can also get a tricycle taxi (tuktuk) or motorcycle taxi or regular taxis. In the night it is safest to take a taxi.
- 1 Colobus Conservation, Diani Beach Road, Diani Beach, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A re-adaptation center and orphanage for Angolan colobus in the Kwale County. If you want to see one of the six primates species in South Coast Kenya visit the colobus trust for an informative walk to spot one of the many wild primates. There are opportunities for volunteering.
- 2 Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest. This is a special forest which can only be visited with a guide. It is better to phone ahead to confirm there is one, especially if you want to go early while it is still cool. Allow 2 hours for a full tour. Better if you don't have mobility problems. It's very safe and quite different form the beach attractions. It's a place rich in cultural heritage as well as sacred ambience. One has to tie a black kanga as a sign of respect to the spirits residing in the holy forest. Through the nature trail one gets to learn of different plants and a cleared area shows the residence of the ancestors. You can make wishes while hugging a tree that's sacred. After that long walk you can enjoy a cultural dance.
- 3 Komboza Cave. Entrance is directly between "Spice Bar" and "Asin's Hotel" on the beach road near Southern Palms beach resort. The cave system runs from the entrance to the sea at Leisure Lodge in one direction and to the Mosque by Kongo river and possibly even to Tiwi in the other. The cave system is currently being developed.
- 4 Slave Caves. 08:30-18:00. The Slave Caves are in Shimoni, the start and finish point for trips to Wasini Island. In these coral rock caves slaves were captured before they were sold in Zanzibar. A sad and yet interesting place, now inhabited by bats. The caves now run as a community project. Short guided tours are offered (Ksh 400).
- Just before reaching Shimoni, near Fikirini village, there are the three Fikirini caves or “Three Sister’s Caves”, one of them quite big with thousands of flying foxes and bats. These enormous underground caverns once served as a hiding spot during the time of the slave trade. Reachable by guided tours and definitely worth a visit if you like caves.
- Quad Trips Drive with quads on a guided trips on dirt roads through small villages and beautiful scenery
- Kite surfing: at Nomads and Galu Beach. Mwazaro Beach is also a well known spot for kite surfers.
- Diving: There are two big diving schools at Diani Beach, Diving The Craband Diani Marine
- Snorkelling: best places are Kisite Marine Park and Wasini Island. In comparison to the well known snorkelling places like in Egypt, Maldives there is not much to see in Kenya.
- Wasini Island - Kisite Marine Park make a day tour by boat with snorkeling, delicious food and have a look at the coral gardens and the slave caves. Prices: €60-100 for tours with lunch, €15-20 for simple tours with beach boys. There is a strong current between May and June and the sea is very turbulent. During this time the tour is only partly recommendable.
- A day tour to or to Shimba Hills Green Lodge enables travellers to relax in impressive natural surroundings and enjoy a marvellous panoramic view across the Shimba Hills, the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary and the river valley.
- a tour on the Mwachema River (also called Congo River). On a boat trip up the Congo-Tiwi-Mwachema River you get a nice impression of the river flora and see a lot of birds. The tour can be best organized by a local travel agency but also by beach boys if you go for cheap. They charge for a 1 hour trip about Ksh 1000 for 2 persons.
- Chale Island or Funzi Island: most easy if you book a day tour by boat. At the end of Diani Road at Chale Harbor you can take a ferry to Chale Island. There are tickets at the booth at the pier. Costs: Ksh 5000 per person including dinner at Sands Hotel. Chale is the only individual resort Island in Kenya. Therefore the high entrance fee.
- Dolphin spotting: trips offered by the beach or on tours to Wasini Island
- Dhow/mangrove cruises, e.g. Gazi Mangrove Boardwalk, learn something about the mangroves and watch the bird life, visit Gazi village, the Congo Mosque and the pristine beach at Gazi from where you can get boats for a tour along the river mouth.
- Sea angling: calculate about €25/5hr
- a trip with a glass bottom boat or a canoe on the sandbank
- Safaris: Most people who come to Kenya want to combine beach fun with a safari tour. If you want to visit the Masai Mara Park, it might be financially worth travelling to Kenya via Nairobi to save the high costs of the flight from Ukunda to the Mara and back. Or if you have plenty of time and want to keep costs low book the safari tour from Diani driving to Tsavo, Amboseli, Nairobi, Naivasha, Mara and then back to the coast by flight or train from Nairobi. There are quite a number of travel agencies at Diani Beach organizing safaris, serious companies and private people that do it illegally to avoid taxes. The illegals can be cheaper of course. For your safety the company should properly service and insure their vehicles and have a working permit. A notice of proper handling can be an own office and vehicles, which clearly show the company logo painted on the bus. For these companies, a muddle would be far more difficult because they are easy trackable. Signs on the car should be firm and not interchangeable with a handle for the next car. In general, however, everyone should inquire about the necessary regulations before booking a safari. A good organizer will be able to answer these questions with pleasure. If you book via Internet you have to ask several agents because every company works either with different hotels or gets different conditions at a special place. Its really worth comparing several offers. Prices depend strongly on the season. During animal migration prices are at top level. Not to be put with 6 others into a minivan its advisable to book the safari at a company situated at Diani Beach and to ask for the transport conditions. If you want to book a safari for several days do it also at a local company via internet from your home country. Than you don’t need to book and pay your hotel at the beach for the days you are out. For good offers it is necessary to know the travel time, the number of persons, which accommodation in the respective park, how many days you want to stay in which park, Jeep or Minivan transport. To check price levels of Safaris: Kenya Safari Tours & Holidays. Some well known companys at Diani Beach area are: Bushadventure, Diani Tours und Safaris, DM Tours, African Bush & Beach Adventures, Aqua Paradise, Kiwara Safaris, you and nature, Kay Adventure Tours
The main shopping area with boutiques and souvenirs is located along the 25 km long main road with more than a hundred local shops, 3 large shopping centers, many supermarkets and groceries. During the rainy season there are less shops, but in general you will find all the goods. If you visit Maasai village you may also buy unique souvenirs made of beads. The most popular souvenirs in Diani beach are paintings, wood crafts, fabrics, kikoy, kanga, statues made of soap stone, hand-made jewellery, traditional African, Arab and Indian clothes and many others.
Money: US Dollar or Euro can be changed in every bank and in hotels. At the airport the courses are low and its better to change only small amount on arrival. At the ATM’s which can be found at banks and big supermarkets Kenya shilling can be withdrawn with most credit cards. When buying goods at small shops, in the streets or at the beach take care to give the exact amount as sellers often tent to betray with change.
- 1 Bahari plaza shopping center. Bahari plaza is a large shopping area spread on both sides of the main road. Ushago restaurant and Chandarana supermarket. You will find here also a pharmacy, Fidelity bank, a large vegetable-fruit shop, Ushago restaurant, safari companies, jewelry shop and a few boutiques. Chandarana supermarket is a Western-style supermarket with all products for daily use. There is also an ATM (Fidelity Bank).
- 2 Nakumat Shopping Centre. Nakumatt Diani beach is modern hypermarket with a few boutiques on the upper floor and a pharmacy and a restaurant with cafeteria on the ground floor. The shopping center is located in the central area and is easy accessible with local Matatu transfer. In Nakumatt you will find all the goods you would get in a large supermarkets in Europe. Some of the prices are very high comparing to the local shops. Right next to the shopping center is DTB bank and ATM.
- 3 Diani Shopping Centre. There is the supermarket Muthaiga, a pharmacy, two restaurants and a sport bar, a large local shops for vegetable, fruits, spices, few boutiques, African art gallery, internet café, Italian bakery, bank and an apple store for computers.
- 4 The Gate Mall. in Ukunda with Naivas Supermarket
There is no reason to be afraid to go out of the resort at night for visiting clubs or restaurants. For security take a taxi from the hotel and back, not Tuktuk or motorcycle. Every restaurant will call a reliable taxi to bring you back after dinner. All pubs and bars serve decent food (see drinking) and there are a lot of small good restaurants. The following restaurants are excellent, a bit more expensive and for special events.
1 Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant set inside an ancient coral cave and lit by warm candlelight. The a la carte menu specializes in seafood, international & traditional cuisine and is accompanied by a great wine-list.The Restaurant opens every day from 7PM. Reservation required. Courtesy transfer from hotels in Diani. Dress code: smart casual. No shorts, no children 6 and under. 6PM-midnight.
2 Sails Beach Bar & Restaurant Seafood, European, vegetarian. Noon-11:30PM.
3 Nomad Restaurant Italian, bar, pizza, seafood, sushi, European, international, gluten-free options, 7AM-10PM.
4 The Edge Beach Restaurant Seafood, barbecue, European, African, vegetarian. 8AM-9PM.
5 Lymington. Delicious seafood and meat dishes with ocean view.
6 Kokkos Cafe. Delicious cake and other tasty sweets. Also good steak and fish dishes
Simple but typical local restaurants where there is really great food at very reasonable prices:
- 7 Swahili Pot. Country style food.
- 8 African Pot. Country style food.
- 9 Coast Dishes. Country style food.
- 10 Qua Bruce Restaurant. Simple but good restaurant for Swahili dishes, diagonally opposite to Barclay's bank.
- 11 Mvureni Beach Bar and Restaurant. Simple restaurant and bar at a beautiful and quiet beach.
Night live at Diani Beach is not comparable to the North Coast at Mombasa or Mtwapa. Its more a place to relax than to party. Many hotels offer life music in the evening. Some of the most visited places are the listed ones:
- 1 Forty Thieves Beach Bar. Best bar in town right at the beach side. Very common place with movie nights, live bands and a pub quiz once a week.
- 2 Manyatta Green Club. Pub at the Beach Road with cheap beer mostly visited by Kenyans.
- 3 Shakatak. Only real club, which is not attached to a hotel.
- 4 Tandoori. Cool club outside the hotel with a mixed audience of locals and tourists. Amenities include pool table and guest house.
- 5 Bidi Badu. Beach bar and restaurant with good music and other shows and entertainment in the evening. Their food is good and the pricing is fair.
Some of the hotels at South Coast are quite isolated offering tranquil holidays at beach and pool which might become boring. Others are closer to night-life and shopping centres. As there are too many hotels, cottages, guest houses at Diani Beach to describe in detail a look at Google Earth gives a good hint which hotels are quiet and which belong to the more active areas. Due to the tropic climate you have to drink a lot and this might sum up if you are not on all inclusive. Therefore it is good to have super markets and simple pubs close to the hotels to keeps costs low, as drinks in the resorts are more expensive than outside. Keep in mind that the hotels that offer all inclusive might have the problem of attracting drunkards. If you have rented a private cottage but want to go to the well-kept hotel areas with sun beds, swimming pool, etc. you have to pay admission, which can be quite high depending on the resort. Dress code in the resorts: men wear long pants at dinner. At breakfast and lunch you can go with short pants and t-shirt or beach dress but never come in swimming trunks or bikini .
- 1 Stilts Backpackers. There are nice tree houses single/double/triple Ksh 1,800/1,400/1,000 with shared bathrooms, or cottages single/double/triple/quad Ksh 3,000/1,800/1,400/1,000 with attached bathrooms per person per night. Wifi available at the bar for Ksh 300 per room for your whole stay.
- 2 [dead link]South Coast Backpackers, ☎ . A backpacker spot with dorms from Ksh 1050 and privates from Ksh 2600. Free wifi.
There are many nice resorts but some don't have a good beach for swimming due to reefs or sea grass. Good resorts with nice beaches include:
- 3 Diani Sea Lodge. . has the best beach in the area
- 4 Papillon Lagun Reef. Located on the most beautiful beach of Diani Beach, friendly staff, good food
- 5 Southern Palms Beach Resort. very large pool, lots of space at beach, good with kids. Popular with Indian families and thus the food has Indian touch.
- 6 Diani Sea Resort. Central, short distances to the supermarket Chandarana and in the evening to the pubs Tandoori and Shakatak
- 7 Ocean Village. small and luxurious
- 8 Baobab Beach Resort. Simple resort but top cuisine, great animation and nice ambience.
Good hotels with less spectacular beach:
- 9 Swahili Beach Resort. nice hotel, Indian building style, very large pool area, unfortunately, the beach section is not so good. But walking a few distance over the reef tops there is a great beach. The Hotel is very central for shopping and restaurants
- 10 Maji Beach Boutique Hotel. best hotel at South coast, small, luxurious
- 11 Sands at Nomad. Beautiful hotel, great beach, delicious cuisine
For those who prefer to enjoy a quiet and relaxed holiday away from the tourist centers, accommodations at Msambweni Beach or Mwazaro Beach are recommended.
- 12 Mbuyu Beach Bungalows. This tiny beach resort in Msambweni is far away from any kind of package tourism.
- 13 Mwazaro Beach Lodge. Far from any tourist infrastructure at Mwazaro beach. Known as a good place for kite surfers
Most long distance connections (bus, train, flights) to other Kenyan destinations go via Mombasa and are described in detail there. Busses to Tansania stop in Ukunda and go via Tanga to Dar es Salaam in about 10-12 hours.
Internet: most hotels have WIFI at least in the reception area. To have internet connection also at the rooms and beach area it is advisable to buy a Kenyan prepaid card at the shopping centres. Mobile internet is cheap in Kenya.
Vaccinations: Every traveler should have at least the usual vaccinations against polio, tetanus, diphtheria, and possibly hepatitis A and B. Vaccinations against typhoid and cholera, diseases transmitted mainly by contaminated water and poor food hygiene, are usually not necessary during tourist stays. Yellow fever: An inoculation against yellow fever must only be done when entering a risk area. Diani Beach is not a risk area but most safari destinations are. Malaria prophylaxis (e.g., lariam, malarone) should be taken as there is a certain malaria risk in most parts of the country. Due to the risk of bilharziosis, bathing in standing fresh water should be avoided.
Tap water is not safe to drink -- buy bottled water instead. In all accommodations, things of value and cash should never be left in the room, but only in the hotel safe! Things that are left unattended on the beach are gone. Take the usual precautions against HIV infections.
It is important to use sun protection cream and to wear a head covering. The sun is strong near Equator! Sunglasses are essential because of the reflective, white sand on the beach. For walks on the beach bathing shoes that tolerate sand and wetness are useful.
During the daytime you never need to be afraid of raids. For many tourists, however, the beachboys are very unpleasant. These are traders of all ages and sex who want to sell everything from the souvenirs, massages to a safari. Although it is understandable that the people in Kenya are very poor and every source of income is used, they become annoying when you are addressed ever few meters. Be aware of Common scams. In the evening take a taxi if you go out to pubs and restaurants. For your best safety at night always go by taxi to restaurants or bars and back, not motorbike taxi or tuktuk.
Monkeys in the hotels: There are monkeys in all the hotel facilities. They can be quite troublesome if you leave a window or balcony door open. They enter the room looking for food and leave it in a chaos. Mostly these are baboons and blue (diademed) monkeys. The latter are sometimes also quite aggressive! The problem is that they are fed by many tourists. These animals are, of course, smart, and expect this from all whites. Although there are signs everywhere stating that the feeding of the monkeys is forbidden, this is seldom noticed. Also in the hotel gardens they tend to steal from the tables. They might look sweet and entertaining, but be aware and don't feed them.
Dentists: The Diani Beach Hospital has a new, modern dental area Consult the safety guidelines for general safety suggestions and rules of general behaviour in public.
- Shimba Hills National Reserve is one of the largest coastal forests in East Africa. This reserve is rich in flora and fauna and hosts the highest density of African elephant in Kenya. Sometimes it's difficult to see the animals as they hide in the forest. Other animal species found in the area are Sable antelope, elephant shrew, bushy tailed mongoose and other small mammals like fruit bats. The forest is an important bird area and is endowed with forest birdlife. The scenic Sheldrick Falls and the dense Mwaluganje Forest are also found here along with four campsites. All hotels will help to organize the trip. The Park is 40 km from Diani Beach. Entrance fee: Ksh 2200, transport by taxi about Ksh 6000 both ways from Diani Beach. Booked travel about Ksh 10,000 including lunch at park. It is worth spending few days in one of the hotels at the edge of the park. They offer a marvelous panoramic view across the Shimba Hills, the Mwaluganje Elefant Sanctury and the river valley (Kutazama, Shimba Hills Green Safari Lodge, Mahindri Lodge).
- Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park & Reserve: It lies in the coral gardens south of Wasini Island and encompasses three small coral rag forest islands, each with considerable areas of fringing reef. Kisite is one of the most rewarding snorkelling locations at the coast with special habitats of a wide range of endemic marine animals and breeding migratory birds.
- Tsavo East National Park. Tsavo East is generally flat, with dry plains across which the Galana River flows with swampy marshland. The park forms the largest protected area in Kenya and is home to most of the larger mammals, vast herds of dust –red elephant, Rhino, buffalo, lion, leopard, pods of hippo, crocodile, waterbucks, lesser Kudu, gerenuk and the prolific bird life features 500 recorded species. The 300-km long Yatta Plateau is the longest lava flow in the world. The Park is about 350 km from Diani Beach. A booked tour of two days is about €250.
- Tsavo West National Park: Tsavo West is characterized by a hilly arid landscape. This park is dotted with volcanic cones; dramatic, black lava flows; and a number of rocky outcrops.
- Maasai Mara National Reserve. A safari trip to the best known Kenyan National Park is about €1000 including flight and hotel for a three-day trip from Diani Beach.
- Mombasa: must-see destination for all who want to see more of Kenya than just beach.
- Mtwapa: the village of the Europeans 20 km north of Mombasa, also a centre of night life.